Many students are taking the SAT this weekend, so I am sending you my best SAT test-taking strategies. Please share these tips with your child.
Remember, YOU control the test. Don’t let the test control you!
General Test-Taking Tips
This is a multiple choice test. You won’t always be able to immediately pick out the correct answer. However, you should be able to chop away at the wrong answers and whittle it down to the best choice.
ELIMINATE AND GUESS
If you can eliminate two or more answers, take a chance and guess. Probability is in your favor at this point.
CLEAR YOUR MIND
Don’t fall apart on the test. If you think you’ve “bombed” a section, clear your mind, refocus, and move on to the next section with confidence. Remember, there is an experimental section on the test that does not count. You may have bombed this section!
If you feel yourself getting anxious, take five deep breaths. This will slow your heart rate and allow you to focus on the questions in front of you. It helps to close your eyes during the deep breathing to truly block out the test for a moment and relax.
Know when to leave blanks on this test! In the 400-range: leave questions blank that you do not know the answer to. In the 500-range: leave six or fewer blanks. However, if you can narrow down your answer choices to three – guess! In the 600-range or higher: absolutely no blanks!
This is a standardized, timed test. Do not “get stuck” and waste time on one question that you may get wrong anyway when you could move on and get the next three questions correct.
SUCK ON CANDY
Studies have shown that students who suck on candy during an exam score higher than those who do not. Bring some sucking candy to the test to help keep yourself awake and engaged.
NO MECHANICAL PENCILS
Although you can find #2 mechanical pencils, don’t bring them to the test. They break, and you have to sit there clicking away waiting for the next piece of graphite. You don’t need the added stress of mechanical pencils, so leave them at home. Plus, scantrons may not pick up the indentations of a mechanical pencil – don’t take that chance!
You never know what to expect on the day of the test – so expect the worst! Bring extra batteries for your calculator, extra pencils, extra erasers, and an extra sweatshirt in case the room is cold. Be prepared!
Reading Section Tips
BANK YOUR TIME
Don’t spend more than five minutes on sentence completions. You should go through these quickly, like a machine, and spend most of your time on the reading comprehension questions.
USE THE MAIN IDEA
If you’ve narrowed down the answer to two or three choices, relate the answers back to the main idea. Take a leap and choose the one that best fits with this main idea.
The readings can be confusing and overwhelming. Don’t get sucked into the abyss of vocabulary words and nonsense! If you find that you’re lost, don’t freak out. Simply focus on the conclusion, get the main idea, and then tackle the questions. Often, if the reading is exceptionally difficult to get through, the questions tend to be a bit easier.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF VOCABULARY
Just because you’re unsure of the definition of a word, don’t be afraid to pick it as the answer. Use your ear – does the word sound like a good word or a bad word? Rely on positives and negatives to get through the sentence completions quickly.
Writing Section Tips
PICK “NO ERROR”
Don’t leave blanks on the grammar multiple-choice. If you don’t see (or hear) a mistake, pick no error. This is correct one in five times!
RELY ON THE KEYS
Remember, the SAT is setting traps! Rely on the grammar keys to find the error and fix the sentences. Being is bad! Which is a witch! It = vomit!
JOT AN OUTLINE
Take a few minutes at the start of the essay to organize your thoughts. Think LCHPS – which literary, current events, historical, personal or sports moments can you draw into this essay?
Math Section Tips
USE YOUR CALCULATOR
Rely on your calculator to do the work! Don’t miss questions because you’re making silly arithmetic mistakes in your head.
Incorrectly answered grid-in questions do not result in any additional point deduction. Therefore, it pays to grid-in something!